For Robert Yellin's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:
Oct 10, 2017
This autumn, there are not one, but two extraordinary ceramic art exhibitions showing in Tokyo. The first highlights the solo works and private collection of Tokyo's Seimei Tsuji (1927-2008) at The National Museum of Modern Art Crafts Gallery, while the other is a dual-exhibition of Kyoto artists Kazuo Yagi (1918-1979) and Kiyomizu Rokubei VII, also known as Kiyomizu Kyubey (1922-2006), showing at Musee Tomo.
Feb 19, 2014
It's not easy to make profound changes in a ceramic style that has a 1,000-year history. Take, for instance, the style known as Bizen. Bizen pottery is one of Japan's most celebrated high-fired unglazed ceramic styles, and continues to be so to this very day. Forms that started with farmers' needs in the 12th century morphed with the demands of the tea ceremony in the 16th century and basically have never changed, ever.
Feb 18, 2011
The first time I met renowned Japanese art collector Dr. Kurt Gitter was at an Asian art conference in New York in 2001, where he was on a discussion panel on Japanese art. An audience member asked Gitter, "Sir, since you and others have passionately collected antique Japanese works for decades and since a new collector is hard pressed to find fine examples, if you were a new collector in Japanese art today, what would you collect?"
Oct 29, 2010
Apr 5, 2007
Dec 7, 2006
Dec 22, 2005
In the 10 years since this column started, much has changed in the worldwide perception of yakimono, Japanese ceramic art. I'm talking about in the contemporary realm, not antiques. The deep and wide world of contemporary Japanese ceramic art is as varied as there are stars in a brilliant winter night sky.
Sep 29, 2005
The phrase "contemplation of the everyday object as a mystical resource" graces the back of a catalog from the 1998 Raku exhibition that toured Europe. I say it over and over in my mind like a mantra, challenging myself to be aware of the things I live with and how they not only satisfy my needs but also nourish my spirit. Although the item referred to there was chawan (tea bowl), it could apply to anything.
Jul 27, 2005
In the ceramic world of early 20th-century Kyoto, Chinese ceramics, not Kyo-yaki (Kyoto-style pottery) were the rage of the day, and any potter worth a spin on the wheel strove to emulate them. In form and color, the ability to perfectly copy an ancient Sung dynasty vase was held up as the highest peak a Kyoto potter could climb. Kyoto was to remain bound in a Chinese spell for at least four decades, until World War II changed everything.
Jun 29, 2005
Any new publication on Japanese ceramic art in English is a welcome addition to the few books on the subject. Like "Masterpieces of Modern Japanese Pottery from the Gisela Freudenberg Collection" currently showing in Frankfurt, Germany, many of these publications coincide with exhibitions and serve to educate the visitor on Japanese ceramic art information. This time the new tie-in book is from Germany, highlighting a private collection put together over three decades and now showing at the Museum fur Angewandte Kunst, Frankfurt, Germany until Aug. 28.
May 18, 2005
Apr 20, 2005
Japan has long been fascinated with outside influences, and voraciously absorbs them in order to create something totally unique. This can be found in almost all aspects of Japanese industry and culture -- and it is nowhere more apparent than in the pottery born in Kyushu. Of course, ancient kilns dating back to the dawn of Japanese civilization are to be found on Kyushu, yet it wasn't until the late 1590s with the influx of Korean potters -- in the "Pottery Wars" -- that the island's pottery really matured.
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